David Vitter has had it with undocumented immigrants. "Enough is enough," the Republican Senator and Louisiana gubernatorial candidate tweeted on Friday. "I introduced a bill to require mandatory detention for anyone here illegally & get illegal aliens on the next plane home."
The legislation Vitter introduced Friday doesn't actually require all immigrants to be detained and deported. It mostly applies to child migrants, 70,000 of whom will make their way to the United States from Central America this year. Specifically, unaccompanied minors without asylum claims would be put "on the next available flight to their home countries within 72 hours of an initial screening."
See MoJo's full coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America.
But if we really tried to do what Vitter's tweet suggests—and why not? He's a senator!—it would entail increasing the nation's immigration detention capacity by a factor of 365. And flying all those immigrants home would require more planes than currently exist.
The math is simple. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are 11 million people currently in the United States without permanent legal status, the bulk of them from Latin America. In 2011, the average flight to that region had room for 171.8 passengers. It would require 64,027 flights to move all those migrants. Unfortunately, there were only 7,185 commercial aircraft in the United States as of 2011, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, so the mass deportations might take a while, especially considering Tegucigalpa's Toncontín International Airport boasts "the world's trickiest landing."
Even if other nations chipped in, it'd still be a tough row to hoe. According to Boeing, there are only 20,310 commercial airliners in the world, although that figure is set to double by 2032, if we want to wait.
These back-of-the-envelope calculations don't take into account other details, like the costs and logistics of finding and rounding up 11 million people. On the plus side, the amount of jet fuel required for Vitter's plan would be a boon for the oil and gas industry—one of Louisiana's largest employers.
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who spent the weekend visiting Honduras and Guatemala with six other members of Congress, reaffirmed his belief on Wednesday that the ongoing humanitarian crisis along the southern border is to send migrants home—even though he found his host city too dangerous to go outside.
Congressman Steve Pearce said Wednesday that most immigrants from Central America who are crossing illegally into the United States are driven by economic reasons, not fear of physical danger in their homeland.
Pearce said he and the rest of the House delegation that visited Honduras and Guatemala did not venture from their hotel very often because of the dangers, but the message they received in both countries was consistent: "Send back our children."
So to recap: Tegucigalpa is too dangerous for grown members of Congress to leave their downtown hotel rooms, but a perfectly fine place to send an eight-year-old kid. (According to a press release, the congressional delegation did leave their hotel to visit an outreach center funded by the US government. They also met with the president and first lady of Honduras.) Meanwhile, not content with the results of Pearce's investigation, a rival Congressional delegation, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), is en route to Central America now. We'll see if they find it safe enough to walk around.
Todd Akin won't stop talking. And he won't stop talking about rape. On Thursday, the former Republican Missouri congressman and failed Senate candidate—best known for suggesting that the female body could self-terminate a pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape"—appeared on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown to talk about his new book, Firing Back, and to explain why he was totally right about the rape thing. During the 10-minute spot, he insisted that "legitimate rape is a law enforcement term." (He did not cite a source for this.) And he pointed out that Bill Clinton was accused of committing rape and "assault on women," yet the former president was applauded when he delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic convention. "Seems to me, it's a Democratic war on women," Akin remarked.
Contradicting his comment about a woman's ability to "shut that whole thing down"—that is, to prevent conception following a rape—Akin claimed that he "had a number of people" working on his Senate campaign who "had been conceived in rape."
Impeachment is having another moment. On Wednesday, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) became the latest conservative politician to suggest that Republicans may attempt to oust President Obama from office if they take control of the Senate next fall, citing "mounting frustration that a lot of people are getting to." For conservative activists, it's no longer of issue of whether the president should be impeached, but what for. Since 2010, the Obama's haters have floated more than two dozen reasons for filing articles of impeachment. They would like to oust the president for, among other things...
Anything at all: "It needs to happen," Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), an early adopter, said in 2011.
Benghazi "jihadi-coddling": "This president was forced to see signs from people reminding them that they will not forget the seven hours of hell that the murdered Americans went through before they perished in Benghazi!," said Michelle Malkin. (Steven Seagal agrees.)
The birth certificate: "The Executive has an awful lot of power to keep from showing certain things unless the courts will stand up to him, or unless Congress in majority will stand up, up to and including impeachment," Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) admonished in 2010, before calling for a select committee of talk-radio hosts, members of Congress, and a single Supreme Court justice to examine the president's birth certificate.
The border crisis (2010):"Recent reports of contacts between Hezbollah and Mexican drug cartels make it all but certain that terrorists intent on destroying us will come across our southwestern border," said former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), blaming Obama for the continued existence of illegal immigration.
The border crisis (2014): In July, reality TV star Sarah Palin wrote an op-ed for Breitbart.com stating that the "unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, 'No mas.'"
Bowe Bergdahl:According to former Florida Rep. Allen West (of course), "Barack Hussein Obama's unilateral negotiations with terrorists and the ensuing release of their key leadership without consult—mandated by law—with the US Congress represents high crimes and misdemeanors, an impeachable offense."
Defense of Marriage Act: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) toldThink Progress in 2011 that he'd "absolutely" vote for impeachment "If it could gain the collective support."
Egypt: According to talk-radio host Tammy Bruce, "If it is found that Obama secretly facilitated or 'encouraged' an Islamist takeover of Egypt, an ally, he should be impeached."
EPA power-plant regulations: According to the South Dakota Republican Party, "The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are very clear on the authority of the President and the Federal Government"—and the president's environmental regulations could not be tolerated.
Fast and Furious: Gun Owners of America president Larry Pratt, most recently seen encouraging the use of force against elected officials, said last March that, "if this isn't the time when you can get him both politically and legally, I don't know when."
Fort Hood: "[T]hese days, what brain-functional person believes what officials, even those in high positions of responsibility, say about events like this?" asked one-time presidential hopeful Alan Keyes.
Health coverage for undocumented residents: "We clearly have a president who is dedicated to the well being of people who are here in our country illegally and instead of watching out for the interests of the American people," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said in March.
Hypothetical executive orders: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) sought to preempt any actions by President Obama to reduce gun violence by threatening impeachment: "If the president is allowed to suspend constitutional rights on his own personal whims, our free republic has effectively ceased to exist," he said last January.
Hypothetical raising of the debt ceiling: "This president is looking to usurp congressional oversight to find a way to get it done without us," Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said in 2011.
Hypothetically defaulting on the debt: "Obama would be impeached if he blocked debt payments," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), warned in an otherwise undecipherable tweet.
"If you like your plan, you can keep it": "He had to tell that lie in order to get Obamacare passed," Ann Coulter said in January, although she conceded that impeachment is unlikely.
IRS scandal: "Nixon only dreamed about doing what Lois Lerner has done," Rush Limbaugh told his Dittoheads.
ISIS: "If Obama allows the world's first pure terror state to emerge on his watch, my God, if that's not grounds for impeachment, I don't know what is," Ret. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters toldNewsmax in June.
Libya no-fly zone: "If we're going to be a government of laws, and not descend into empire, this is Caesar crossing the Rubicon," said Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein, explaining why he was drafting a sample order of impeachment.
Not extending the Bush tax cuts: It was a simple proposition for Grover Norquist: "Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach."
NSA data collection: "In Watergate, Richard Nixon faced impeachment for breaking into the offices of the chairman of the Democratic National Party—Obama has broken into the homes of 300 million Americans," conservative lawyer Larry Klayman explained last December.
Obama's legacy: At least Glenn Beck is honest in his reasoning: "[Obama] needs to have the stain on his record that they cannot remove."
Recess appointments: When asked about the Supreme Court's decision in July knocking down the president's power of appointment, Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) floated impeachment, before quickly backtracking.
The stimulus:WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliot argued that "Questions should already be raised about how the former employer of Obama's Commerce secretary received the Energy Department’s biggest loan guarantee."
The Veterans Affairs scandal: "I and Liberty Counsel Action are calling on the House of Representatives, the people's house, to draft Articles of Impeachment against President Barack H. Obama for high crimes and misdemeanors," Liberty University law school dean Mathew Staver announced in May.
See MoJo's full coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America.
Last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a dire warning: Some of the child refugees streaming across the southern border into the United States might carry deadly diseases. "Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning," Gingrey wrote. "Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles."
Gingrey's analysis carried an aura of credibility among conservatives, because, as Judicial Watch noted, the congressman is "also [a] medical doctor." But his two-page letter is filled with false charges—there's no evidence that migrants carry Ebola or that they're less likely to be vaccinated—from an inconvenient messenger: The congressman has himself pushed legislation to discourage some kinds of mandatory vaccinations in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus has only ever affected humans in sub-Saharan Africa. (It has been found in China and the Philippines, but has never caused an illness, let alone a fatality.) Central America is far away from sub-Saharan Africa:
Central America is on the left. Google Maps
Ebola has a 50 percent mortality rate and a remarkably short life-span, so it's safe to assume that if it had somehow made its way across the Atlantic to our own hemisphere, we would've heard it by now; some congressman probably would've sent a letter. But apparently Ebola fearmongering can travel across the Atlantic even if the disease can't: A similar allegation was leveled in Italy last spring, with activists warning that migrants from Guinea were bringing Ebola with them to the peninsula. (Although false, the claim was at least more plausible: There is an Ebola outbreak in Guinea.)
Gingrey's misdiagnoses aren't confined to Ebola. As the Texas Observer points out, when it comes to measles, children in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are more likely to be vaccinated than children in the United States. None of those countries have recorded an outbreak of measles in 24 years. Kids in Marin County are more at risk.